There’s a game you can play when driving the Vauxhall Astra EcoFlex. It’s called: when will the fuel gauge needle move?
With a combined economy of 62.8mpg, it is certainly frugal.
The car uses the 1.7-litre CDTi engine and achieves this impressive figure via some design tweaks.
These include adjustments to the engine management system, reducing the engine’s idle speed, dropping the kerbweight by 30kgs, fitting lowered suspension and improving the aerodynamics.
Low rolling resistance tyres are also fitted.
All this means that the EcoFlex produces 119g/km of CO2 and therefore costs £35 a year to tax.
The ride is still comfortable, although the seats could be more supportive, while the black plastic finish on the centre console looks smart.The rest of the cabin is well laid out.
The 108bhp engine is a smooth and fairly strong performer. Vauxhall is targeting retail and business customers.
Competitors are the Ford Focus Econetic, Volkswagen Golf BlueMotion, Peugeot 308 Blue Lion and Renault Megane Eco2.
Vauxhall says people will buy the EcoFlex ahead of these competitors because of its build quality and service back-up from about 450 UK dealers. Vauxhall also expects buyers to be attracted by its good fuel economy and low emissions.
Options for the standard Astra also apply to the EcoFLEX which is available now. Three-door and estate versions are available. Prices start at £16,340. Residual values are expected to be 26% (30,000 miles, 36 months).
With a low tax bracket and roomy interior, it has a lot of appeal.
However, the model has been around since 2004 and is due for replacement next year, so its design looks dated compared to its rivals.
The consumer view
At only £287 more than the standard 1.7 CDTI Design, the EcoFLEX is a tempting choice.
The seats are unsupportive and the dashboard, although good looking, isn’t the most user-friendly thing.
We like the low emissions with extra power, handling, looks and value for money at base level.
Factor in the fact that the Astra still looks good on the road despite its time in the lifecycle and you are left with an Astra which appeals to the head and the heart.